5 Holiday Impulse Purchases Buyers Regret

searching for airplane tickets

Some holiday purchases leave shoppers with the holiday edition of buyer’s remorse. Usually, these tend to be impulse purchases. You might not have had it on the list to begin with but got swept up into thinking you or someone you know absolutely had to have this present.

Holiday Spending: Get Top Holiday Shopping and Savings Tips
Find Out: 3 Easy Tips to Turn Your Credit Woes into Wows

Be careful to avoid depleting your bank account on costly purchases. These are the top holiday items buyers regret impulsively buying.


If you have been married or in a relationship for a significant amount of time, buying a piece of jewelry may be a welcome surprise. The person for whom it is often not a welcome surprise is someone you have just started dating. 

Impulsively buying someone jewelry when you haven’t officially declared you’re in a relationship with them yet can cause the giftee to spiral with questions, especially if the jewelry is expensive.

Make Your Money Work for You

It also can make for an awkward moment if you’re giving the present to someone in public or around family members. It may seem like a romantic gesture to you, but resist the urge to buy jewelry for someone you only recently started seeing.

Live Richer Podcast: Tips To Stay on Budget This Christmas

Musical Instruments

This is a common impulse purchase during the holidays, especially with children. Kids may declare they want to become rock stars, so they want to learn how to play instruments. Parents may think it’s a good idea to indulge the whims with guitars or drum sets.

Unless the kids have set plans for how they will play the instruments and will be using them every day, there is a strong likelihood the instruments will get a few days of noisy play, at best. Then, they will retire to the closet, garage or attic.

Avoid impulsively buying instruments for kids and teenagers. Instead, look to rent or borrow.

A House

While films may depict buying homes during the holiday season as rosy moments for families, the general guidance is to avoid making this type of purchase in December. 

Make Your Money Work for You

Previously, GOBankingRates ranked the best and worst times of year to purchase a home. Potential homebuyers are recommended to avoid purchasing homes during these months because it can be more stress than it’s worth.

Homebuyers may feel they need to rush into making purchases because of holiday and end-of-year timelines. As a result, it’s possible to impulsively buy a home that is not exactly your dream home but is “a home” you can use for bragging rights on social media and with family members.

We suggest waiting until the recommended months of May through August instead.

Toys With the Wrong Brand or Character

You’re shopping for toys for your nephew and are trying to remember which brand he likes. Was it “Star Wars” or “Star Trek?” Now you’re getting a Disney “Frozen” doll for your niece. Did she want Anna or Elsa?

Make Your Money Work for You

When in doubt, don’t overspend or impulsively buy a ton of toys that are the wrong brand or character. You could wind up gifting someone too many presents that are not what they like or want. If you really don’t know, text or call someone close to this person, like a parent, to be certain.

Plane Tickets

This is another gift that works well as a movie trope, but in real life it can be extremely regrettable. 

It may seem like a nice gesture to buy a friend a plane ticket for a Vegas getaway, but what if the friend can’t take time off work for it? What if the trip collides with previously set vacation plans? 

This can quickly turn into a logistical nightmare if you impulsively bought tickets without consulting the other person. Worse yet, it can take weeks to get a refund, if the tickets are even refundable.

More From GOBankingRates

Share This Article:

facebook sharing button
twitter sharing button
linkedin sharing button
email sharing button
Make Your Money Work for You

About the Author

Heather Taylor is a senior finance writer for GOBankingRates. She is also the head writer and brand mascot enthusiast for PopIcon, Advertising Week’s blog dedicated to brand mascots. She has been published on HelloGiggles, Business Insider, The Story Exchange, Brit + Co, Thrive Global, and more media outlets. 

Learn More


See Today's Best
Banking Offers